Poker players, or any card game players for that matter, are always trying to find something new to try out. This is why the long forgotten draw poker variant Badugi is starting to wake up from the hibernation state it has been in over the past twenty-five years.
Even though this game has some difference when we compare it to the classic poker, it is quite unique and special. Namely, while regular poker and its variants use five cards in hand, Badugi consists of only four.
This roots of this game and its hand-ranking system come from the lands of the far East, from Korea, to be more precise. And back in the 1980s, it was very popular.
Other than four cards instead of traditional five, Baugi differs from classic poker in card rankings. A low card is the best combination in this game, for example, four of spades/three of diamonds/two of hearts/Ace of clubs — this is called the “Badugi” hand, and it is the one that takes home the pot. This means that each card has to be a distinct number (as low as possible) and the suits of the cards have to be different. If you happen to have straights, they will be ignored.
In the last round, the weakest hand will win at showdown. For example, if your opponent has eight of hearts/three of diamonds/two of spades/Ace of clubs, and you have seven of diamonds/four of hearts/ three of clubs/two of spades, you will win.
If no hand at the table has a Badugi hand than the strongest incomplete hand takes the pot. For example, three of clubs/three of diamonds/two of hearts/Ace of spades is a weak hand because it contains a pair. Seven of hearts/four of hearts/two of clubs/Ace of diamonds is also not a good hand, because there are two cards of different rank, but there are two of the same suit. In this particular case, each participant has the so-called “Three Card” hand and is competing with their most robust three-card combination.
The first hand from the example above would prevail over the second hand because the cards that do count are three of diamonds/two of hearts/Ace of spades. They are stronger than the second example, four of hearts/two of clubs/Ace of diamonds.
Any Badugi beats an incomplete three-card hand. In case a player can’t compile a three-card, the next best one is a two-card hand. There is also a one-card hand, which is the weakest Badugi combination.
Many poker versions can be played with the Badugi card-ranking system, but the most common and popular type is the Triple Draw poker. This game is usually performed at the big tournaments with fixed limits, no antes, and two blinds. It is typically played eight-handed, both in land-based and online casinos.
Chasing the Pot
Many people believe Badugi is a game with high-variance simply because there is a lot of action and three draws. But the truth is — Badugi hand is pretty hard to make. Why? Just think about it for a second. If your opponent is holding eight of hearts/seven of spades/six of diamonds/five of clubs, and you get three of hearts/two of spades/Ace of clubs, how many outs do you actually have?
Let’s break it down — in this case, you only have four outs, the eight, seven, five and four of diamonds. All of the rest of forty-one cards in a standard 52-cards deck Badugi uses will lose for you, making you a forty-one to four underdog.
For instance, with only one draw that remains, a combination of three of hearts/two of spades/Ace of clubs is an 82% favoured against a four of diamonds/two of hearts/Ace of spades. In order to win, the four of diamonds/two of hearts/Ace of spades has to improve into a Badugi hand, and afterwards hope that the three of hearts/two of spades/Ace of clubs don’t get an improvement to a stronger one.
Unlike a game like Omaha, in Badugi, it’s very hard to catch up once you receive a really bad hand.
We hope that you most certainly don’t plan to wait around for a Badugi. This is first and foremost an aggressive and fast-moving action game, with the players raising even before the very first draw, making the pot very big very fast.
Furthermore, you getting involved in the enormous pots with the weakest hand is a thing no one wishes to happen very often. Simply because everyone wants to be the one with the strongest hand, and not the one in a constant chase to catch the Badugi.
The judgement if the pot is worth the risk, and if any opponent is bluffing their way to the pot comes with experience. You cannot expect to be a professional player just because you read this article. Any good poker player knows that practice makes perfect.
Drawings and Rounds in Badugi
Just like in 2-7 Triple Draw, if you get to draw fewer cards than your opposite player, usually you should come out betting afterwards, regardless if you have improved or not. In case both you and your opponent have drawn the same number of cards, and you had the lead in betting just before the draw, typically you should just keep up with bets. Here’s a tip — if you were leading before the draw, it is very likely that you will remain in the better position. In fact, even more likely than in 2-7 Triple Draw.
Now, if you do get a Badugi hand while drawing, you should finally be in the position called the stand pat.
In this poker game, there are in total four betting rounds, with the second and the third one being identical. The first and the final one have slightly different rules, though.
The first round of betting begins with the player left of the dealer placing a mandatory bet. There are two bets in Badugi — the big blind and the small blind, with the second one usually being half the size of the big blind.
After the blinds have been placed, the dealer distributes four cards facing down to each player. Betting round ensures all the participants to either fold, raise or check. After all the participants matched their bets, raised or checked, the first draw occurs. Additionally, the players may draw four cards or less, but never more than four.
Second and Third Round
The same conditions which applied on the first round go for the second and the third one. Depending on the action in front of them, players have the possibilities to fold, bet or raise.
The Final Round and the Showdown
At this final round, the players who remain show their hands in order to determine the ultimate winner of the juicy pot. If a single player has the Badugi, they are the only lucky winner. If it occurs that more than one player has good hands, the participant with the lowest possible hand will win. In some cases, no one has the Badugi, and the player with the best three-card combination takes the pot. Nevertheless, if two players have hands of equal strength, it’s called a tie, and the two of them have to split the pot.
Some Useful Tips, Tricks, and Strategies
While learning how to play Badugi, you may want to aspire to have at least three non-paired suits to begin with. Remember, the lower your starting cards are, the better.
If you wish to draw only two cards, do your best to have at least two cards under seven.
Don’t be scared to call a single bet at the end if you don’t have a Badugi hand but a three-card instead. There are many weaker combinations you can win with, no matter how confident the other player may seem. Always count on the bluffing factor, other players may be counting on it as well. To read a good bluff, you must have experience, which means you should practice.
Before you decide to enrol in a live casino against some tough opponents, try to practice with your friends as much as you can. There are also some free demo versions of Badugi online poker, so you may want to start with that first. You can find some other draw games online as well.
Badugi Bluff Technique
Let’s mention the term ‘Snowing’ in Badugi. When the players are snowing, it means that they are attempting to convince their opponents that they have a Badugi hand when they, in fact, don’t. It is a poker face bluff.
If you want to be the ultimate snowing Badugi player, you must learn to control every sensation and emotion you may experience during the gameplay.
Focus on both your and the opponent’s expressions, and try to make them fold because your face gives them the winning vibes. Also, make sure that your reactions and your mind are quick and smart, don’t try to staying until the final round if your hand isn’t that strong. You shouldn’t rely only on your bluffing skills to chase away the opponents.
A true professional knows when to stand down. It’s not something shameful if you choose to fold and walk away. On the contrary, this can save you quite a lot of money, and your wallet will thank you for it.
Unfortunately, the only successful tactic in any poker variant is to convince the opponents that you have a better hand than they do. But, before you decide to play for real money, just try to learn every possible rule and hand rankings in Badugi. Once you master them, upgrade the knowledge by adding the best possible poker face you can make. This can be a make or break in the never-ending chase after the desirable pot. Good luck.